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March/April 2011
Vol. 36, No. 2

U.S. budget: What are our priorities?

As NewsNotes goes to press, the U.S. Congress is still agonizing over the 2011 budget, with the 2012 budget waiting in the wings. As Congress wrangles over the 2011 continuing resolution, the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns sent an urgent appeal to U.S. senators, asking them to prioritize the "well being of the whole earth community." The letter appears below.

As you negotiate the Continuing Resolution for FY2011 and begin to consider funding priorities for FY2012, we urge you to replace time-worn, discredited policies that emphasize U.S. national security over-against the well being of the whole earth community with a commitment to multilateral cooperation and inclusive security for all.

For 100 years Maryknoll missioners have lived and worked in different corners of the world. From there we have experienced the increasing interconnectedness of life on this planet and know that the consequences of disease and lack of health care, food insecurity and malnutrition, inadequate education, climate change and extremist ideologies know no borders. The response of the United States to our current deficit must take this interconnectedness into account, welcome it and build on its many positive possibilities by placing greater emphasis on cooperative engagement toward a dignified life for all, just peace and inclusive global security.

The United States cannot balance our budget on the backs of poor people here and around the world or at the expense of the earth and future generations. Other routes to fiscal health abound, including a significant reduction in excessive military spending and a complete restructuring of our tax system, including the imposition of a small tax on some financial transactions.

We were shocked by the drastic cuts made to the FY2011 budget by the House of Representatives and plead with you to reject the priorities the House Continuing Resolution reflects. In particular, ensure that:

  • U.S. commitments to the United Nations, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, are wholly honored;
  • critical U.S. regulatory agencies, including the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency are given sufficient budgetary capacity to accomplish the important work entrusted to them
  • the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP), as one U.S. institution designed to promote sustainable pathways to peace, is fully funded. [The USIP budget is $42 million, which is spent in three hours in Afghanistan.]
  • the State Department and USAID budgets are sustained, including funding to strengthen U.S. diplomatic capacity as well as to honor U.S. commitments to people living with HIV and AIDS through PEPFAR and the Global Fund; for emergency, disaster and refugee assistance and for programs that support rural agriculture and food security.
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